Ben Stein's Expelled - Part II

27 September 2007

In August, I wrote about Ben Stein's new pro-creationist film Expelled, and how the film's website dishonestly portrayed Guillermo Gonzalez as some sort of martyr to "Big Science" (rather than as a University professor who was justifiably denied tenure for failure to produce original research while employed). It turns out that wasn't the only dishonest aspect of the film.

World-famous Oxford biologist Richard Dawkins was invited to appear in a film titled "Crossroads," reportedly produced by Rampant films, which he was told would "examin[e] the intersection of science and religion." Being a famous atheist scientist, Dawkins agreed. It was only after the interview that Dawkins learned that the film's title, producer, and premise were all other than he had been told. Instead of "examining the intersection of science and religion," the film sets out to paint the old, discredited idea of special creation as some sort of bold new idea that is being persecuted and discriminated against. Dawkins says that he never would have appeared in the film if he had known its true premise.

Eugenie Scott, a physical anthropologist, and the executive director of the National Center for Science Education, was similarly approached and deceived.
“I have certainly been taped by people and appeared in productions where people’s views are different than mine, and that’s fine,” Dr. Scott said, adding that she would have appeared in the film anyway. “I just expect people to be honest with me, and they weren’t.”

P.Z. Myers, a biology professor from the University of Minnesota was also approached and offered the chance to appear in "Crossroads." Myers wrote this email to the producer once he learned more about the film:
Hey, I just learned today that the actual film is now called "Expelled", that it features Ben Stein, and that it's really a gung- ho pro-creationism/anti-science film. I would have agreed to be interviewed even if you'd been honest with me about the subject — I'm not reticent about my opinions — so I don't understand why you felt you had to conceal your intent. Care to explain yourself? Was this the movie you planned from the beginning?

None of the questions were answered by the producer, who simply thanked Myers "for sharing your viewpoints."

This line deals with the situation pretty well:
There is no credible scientific challenge to the theory of evolution as an explanation for the complexity and diversity of life on earth. And while individual scientists may embrace religious faith, the scientific enterprise looks to nature to answer questions about nature. As scientists at Iowa State University put it last year, supernatural explanations are “not within the scope or abilities of science.”

UPDATE: This is how the film originally presented itself to Dawkins, Scott and Myers.
Crossroads—The Intersection of Science and Religion:
It's been the central question of humanity throughout the ages: how in the world did we get here? In 1859 Charles Darwin provided the answer in his landmark book, "The Origin of Species." In the century and a half since, biologists, geologists, physicists, astronomers and philosophers have contributed a vase amount of research and data in support of Darwin's idea. And yet, millions of Christians, Muslims, Jews and other people of faith believe in a literal interpretation that humans were crafted by the hand of God. This conflict between science and religion has unleashed passions in school board meetings, courtrooms and town halls across America and beyond.

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